April 9, 2013

Symbols in Flash vs Drawings in Toonboom (Toonboom Tips #1)

Something a little different this week; a tutorial on creating drawings in Toonboom vs creating symbols in Flash! This simple tutorial will be especially useful for anyone just getting into Toonboom whether they have previous experience with Flash or not. Creating a new drawing in the Toonboom library is the equivalent to making a new symbol or instance in Flash.

Here is a screengrab of my Toonboom set up. I've got the drawing named "bi_r_hand" selected and you can see that on the stage by the orange bounding box around the hand, on the timeline as the selected drawing is highlighted and in the library as instance 1_1 is selected of drawing 1_1.
Now if you right click on the drawing in the timeline, a menu will pop up. Go to Drawings and then pick how you want to create a new drawing. You can either create an empty drawing or duplicate the one you've got selected (Alt+Shift+D) which is what I'm going to do this time.
When I selected duplicate drawing, a new drawing instance called 1_2 was created in the library with the same artwork.
Now I'm going to edit the new drawing using the Contour Editor (white arrow) found in the Tools Toolbar. (A sidenote on shortcuts; they are important!!! They save time! My shortcuts are set to Adobe Flash which is useful to me since I go between Toonboom and Flash regularly and switching between shortcut setups can be a real mindfuck. Since these shortcuts mimic the shortcuts in Flash, I don`t have to memorise a whole new set of keyboard shortcuts for the same tools. The shortcut for the Contour Editor in Flash is "A" and when set to Flash style shortcuts in Toonboom, it's Alt+A. The regular Toonboom Animate Shortcut for the Contour Editor is Alt+Q.) Toonboom has a few really amazing contour editing tools that Flash doesn't. For example the Show Contour Editor Controls button in the Tool Properties menu. If you select this tool, you can move it around the stage and rotate or scale selected pivot points. It will appear like a blue bounding box. If you want to create new points on the drawing, hold control while hovering over a contour and then click.
Now I'm done editing the drawing. (I moved the pinky finger out.) The instance in the drawing (1_2) is visible when the library is open.
Now if you want to show drawing 1_1 again, you move to the spot on the timeline you want that drawing to appear and move the slider back on the library.

Let's take a look at the equivalent for this in Flash. In the screen cap below I've got a Flash file open and I'm on frame 93 of an animation. The front paw symbol is selected and you can see in the Properties tab that it's called "paw" and is set to single frame and instance 2.
On frame one the same symbol is on the same layer but instance 1 is used and still set to single frame.
When you click into the symbol called paw, you can see the two instances back to back on the timeline. Of course it's possible to set frames to single frame or play once, or loop, depending on what you need in the scene. I often use play once to embed animation within a symbol and just make sure that the frames on the outside of that symbol have the right instance set. This function is extremely useful, especially for face compositions (comps) or hands.
Let me know if you have any burning Flash or Toonboom (or hand drawn) animation questions! I'd be happy to post more tutorials in the future if people find them helpful. This one was inspired by Jay Edry.

An extra note: Particularly for TV and film productions, it is useful when using Flash to add new symbols to a file by embedding them inside master symbols set graphic and single frame. (For example with hand or face symbols.) Using symbols set to movie clip in a film production is more or less a no-no, however they are often useful for web animations. More often than not though, I use graphics whenever I can in any Flash animation. Keeping the timeline and library clean and easy to navigate are of utmost importance for the efficient animator, especially when sharing files. I currently work at a game studio and I've had to access other animator's Flash files that were animated a couple years ago. When the animators created those files, they did not dream that their files would be opened up again and reauthored or tweaked. But it's best to always assume that your work can and will be opened up by another artist at a later date.

Happy Digital Animating!

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Have some pickles!

A wee bit of rough animation I managed to get done while my kiddo is asleep! Have some pickles! from Andrea K Haid on Vimeo .